Sorry it took me so long to get this up. I know this story could (and should) probably be much longer, but for some reason I stopped here. I dunno. Maybe because I was working under a deadline. When I go back to it, I'm definitely looking at the ending a bit, don't worry! Well, here it is...

Chapter 7

Thick as Thieves

I trudged down the hall, dragging my feet behind me so I would take as long as I possibly could. I didn't want to see who was waiting behind that door. If it was Jamie, I'd be dead. If it was Teddy, I'd be dead. If it was a lawyer, I'd be worse than dead.

The guard didn't leave me time to contemplate, though. He shoved open the door to the plain white room, almost like my cell except a bit larger, and waited outside, unabashedly peering in through the crack. I entered, practically rolling my eyes when I saw the tall figure sitting at the small card table.

It was Liam Anderson. Of course. I stood before him as I weighed the implications. He had probably figured out that I had stolen the watch and was here to make sure I was locked up for good. He was going to make sure I'd never see him or the light of day ever again. And even though he was arrogant and a bit egoistic, for some reason, I found myself thinking that maybe I did want to see him again.

So it came as a surprise when he shook his blond curls back out of his eyes and smiled at me. Maybe he had believed what I told him over the phone.

He looked deep into my eyes. "Are you okay?" he asked solemnly.

I moved my lips, but no sound came out. No, I wasn't okay. "Yeah," I mustered after a few long seconds. "I'm fine."

"You're in jail," Liam muttered, chuckling. So he'd noticed.

"Well, okay, you're right. I'm not fine," I said quietly, rolling my eyes. Maybe he hadn't figured it out, after all! Then in that case, I'd just have to go ahead and play my game. "Your people put me in jail!" I spat, pointing at him in fake accusation. In reality, I was just terrified he wouldn't buy my act. "I was just trying to return your stupid watch, and—"

Liam interrupted me. "I know, Violet. I'm so sorry."

I nodded a "you-should-be-sorry" nod, but deep down, the feeling of guilt was so strong that my heart practically ached under the weight of it. I was a terrible, terrible person. Once all of this was over, I'd go back to being the quiet, invisible Violet that I used to be.

Liam glanced around. "Listen," he said decisively. "These are my people. Hell, my dad probably owns this whole police station!"

I rolled my eyes. He would bring that up.

Liam leaned over and put his warm hands on top of my clammy ones, and I shuddered. "I'm going to get you out," he murmured. And for the first time that day, I smiled.

After what seemed like an hour sitting in that miserable white room with just the bearded guard for company, Liam finally returned, beaming.

Stupid Governor's son. He didn't even think to ask where I'd gotten the watch from. And I wasn't about to tell him, that was for sure. Liam pointed to his face and wiggled his eyebrows. "Who's good?" he joked, jingling his car keys.

I gasped. "I'm out?"

"Yep!" Liam nodded happily. "I had to pay a little bail, but you're free of charge!"

Without thinking, I rushed over to Liam and flung my arms around his neck, burying my head in his chest. A second later, when I realized what I had done, I timidly backed away, staring at my toes. "Sorry." I cleared my throat in embarrassment.

Liam shrugged, fighting a smile, and shoving his hands into his pockets. "No problem."

"So, uh…" I started, staring at my shoes once again. "I can go now?"

Liam nodded. I bit my lip and the corner of my mouth crept up again in a smile. "Thanks," I muttered, and we walked down the white hall, out of the lobby, and into the sunshine.

"What time is it?" I asked, shielding my eyes.

"9:00," Liam said after looking at his watch. The watch. I paled and turned away, hoping he wouldn't bring it up.

"9:00?" I exclaimed in shock.

Liam nodded.

"On… Tuesday?" I'd been in jail overnight.

Liam nodded again.

"No!" I moaned. Teddy and Jamie and Lucky were probably worried sick.

"What?" Liam asked.

"Uh…" I stuttered, the air filling with tension once more. "I'm late for work?" It came out more as a question, but at least it was a better excuse than what I'd been coming up with lately. And it was true.

"No problem!" Liam said. "Want me to drive you?"

I nodded. "Would you? That would be perfect."

Liam made a show of jingling his keys and pressing the clicker, and I glanced over to the street as the lights on a nice-looking blue sports car flashed. I clenched my jaw to keep it from dropping—I was supposed to be the daughter of a big-time CEO. He didn't need to know that I'd been riding the subway since my parents died when I was four.

I tried to ignore the leather seats and polished dashboard as I directed Liam to the coffee shop, and I kept our conversation to a minimum.

When Liam pulled up to the coffee shop, I got out without a word and stood on the curb, giving him a small wave. Who knew if I'd ever see him again?

Smoothing down my shorts, I realized that it was probably a good thing, too. My web of lies would be finished. I was out of trouble, and I just needed to start over. I plastered a smile on my face as I sidled inside, grabbing my visor and apron from behind the register, preparing to explain to my boss that I had overslept because I still didn't feel great.

As I kicked off my shoes after entering the apartment, the sound of footsteps echoed down the hall.

"Violet!" It was Teddy. Crap. I racked my brain for excuses, my pulse speeding up.

"Teddy!" I began, hoping that he would buy it. "Oh my gosh. I can't believe I fell asleep on the subway. Again!"

Teddy shook his head. "Idiot," he muttered, and I let out a breath of relief.

I bowed my head in shame—shame for getting caught, shame for lying to everyone, including my family. If I kept lying to the people I was closest to, soon I wouldn't have anyone left.

I ran to the shower and let the scalding water envelop me, forcing me to become aware of every last piece of skin. The creases between my toes, the skin under my hair and between my shoulder blades… and I let a tear slip down my cheek. I'd let our whole family down, and without enough money, Jamie would never feel comfortable asking Abby to marry him.

The next morning at the coffee shop, as I robotically filled the coffee machine and tested it to make sure it was working, the door jingled open, and in walked the last person I wanted to see: Liam Anderson, wearing a bright green polo shirt and shiny aviator sunglasses perched atop his head.

I groaned, but he walked straight up to the counter and produced a small package from his pocket.

"Hey, Vi," he muttered, suddenly seeming shy.

I grunted something unintelligible and turned back to the coffee machine, trying to make it look like I wasn't paying much attention. But in reality, I was aware of his every movement behind me.

"Look," he said quietly, lowering his voice so that the other customers wouldn't listen in. "I really am sorry about what they did to you." So he had mistaken my grumpiness for anger at how I'd been imprisoned, which was probably for the better—it would be hard to explain that I was just sick of lying and didn't want to have anything to do with him or those lies ever again.

"Yeah, I'm really sorry about what they did to me, too," I scoffed. And it was true.

Liam fidgeted a bit—something I hadn't seen before. He'd always looked so confident and collected. "So I got you this." He slid the brown package across the counter and I eyed it for a few seconds. "It's for going through all the trouble. Open it," he urged, his eyes apprehensive.

So I carefully ripped the side until the paper unfolded around a purple velvet box. I cracked open the box and gasped—it was a ring; a thin, gold band with a small stone on top, possibly a diamond.

My head swooned, and I set the box down on the counter. This was too good to be true. No, he wasn't proposing—and I knew exactly what I had to do.

Once again, I couldn't contain myself. "Thank you!" I reached over the counter and flung my arms around Liam's neck, just like I'd done earlier. But this time, he was ready for my sudden reaction, wrapping his arms around me as well, and planting a soft kiss on my lips. My heart thudded in my ears.

Liam pulled away reluctantly. "Just next time… don't go taking my watch, okay?"

I froze and untangled myself from his grip. "H—how did you know?"

Liam rolled his eyes. "I'm not an idiot," he said. Well, that was news to me. "I wasn't that drunk." I had a hard time believing that, but what did I know?

I groaned, dreading the answer to my question. "So why did you get me out?"

Liam shrugged. It was his turn to study the ground. "Maybe you're just that good of a kisser," he finally said, smirking.

I gnashed my teeth together. "No, I'm serious!" I was at a loss for words. "Wait, so that whole kissing thing, that was fake? You weren't drunk?" I balled up my fists in indignation. "You little—"

"No!" Liam interrupted. "That was real. I mean, no it wasn't, well—" he stopped. "I just wanted to kiss you."

Well, that wasn't awful. "I guess I can deal with that," I muttered, glancing around the shop. It was between the morning rush and the lunch rush, so there weren't many customers who saw our little scene. I slid the ring back into its box and pocketed it. I'd need it later.

Right then, I made up my mind. I would come clean to Liam. Not about everything—namely, my former life of crime, but about the important things that he'd find out eventually: that I wasn't the daughter of a CEO, that I rode the subway everywhere, that I didn't have parents, that I wasn't even rich. Who knew what would happen between us—we'd only known each other for a few days now, after all. But we couldn't just ignore the fact that he'd freed me from jail, that much was for sure.

And as I smiled back at Liam, I knew I was done. Done with the lies, done with the stealing. And as Liam smiled back at me, I studied my reflection in his sunglasses. I was calm and content. I was happy. I was Violet Harper, former lifter and pickpocket, current coffee shop employee, and current teller of only the truth. Well, most of the time.

That's it! What did you think? Should it be longer? What else should I include?

Want to read more by me? I write fanfiction here: fanfiction (dot) net/u/1554747/Mischief1Managed (remove the spaces) and I'm also working on a new original novel! I have high hopes for it, it should be good. Preview info can be found here: ( http:/firefly114 (dot) blogspot (dot) com/p/meridian (dot) html ) . and if you want to know as soon as it's up, put me on Author Alert!